Hilborn, R and Fulton, EA and Green, BS and Hartmann, K and Tracey, SR and Watson, RA, When is a fishery sustainable?, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 72, (9) pp. 1433-1441. ISSN 0706-652X (2015) [Refereed Article]
Despite the many scientific and public discussions on the sustainability of fisheries, there are still great differences in both perception and definition of the concept. Most authors now suggest that sustainability is best defined as the ability to sustain goods and services to human society, with social and economic factors to be considered along with environmental impacts. The result has been that each group (scientists, economists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), etc.) defines "sustainable seafood" using whatever criteria it considers most important, and the same fish product may be deemed sustainable by one group and totally unsustainable by another one. We contend, however, that there is now extensive evidence that an ecological focus alone does not guarantee long-term sustainability of any form and that seafood sustainability must consistently take on a socio-ecological perspective if it is to be effective across cultures and in the future. The sustainability of seafood production depends not on the abundance of a fish stock, but on the ability of the fishery management system to adjust fishing pressure to appropriate levels. While there are scientific standards to judge the sustainability of food production, once we examine ecological, social, and economic aspects of sustainability, there is no unique scientific standard.